Dear Dave: With all the commercials and marketing that accompany the holiday season, how can parents teach their young children about giving and putting others first at this time of year? — Maryn
Dear Maryn: Christmas is a traditional time to give and help others. But even for adults, it’s easy to get so caught up the glitz we end up forgetting to teach our kids how to give and why it’s so important. How do we make sure they learn the satisfaction of giving to others at an early age? Here are a few easy ideas.
Send an extra snack with them to school. Then, at lunch they can give it to a friend. When they get back home, find out who they shared the snack with and talk about what happened. It can be as simple as that. Also, encourage your kids to pass along compliments. Sharing a kind word with a classmate, or even their teacher, will go a long way toward brightening someone’s day any time of year.
When you’re involved in giving or helping others in any way, take your kids with you. If you’re sponsoring a family through your church, or participating in a charity drive, let your kids be part of the buying and delivery process. When you make giving memories together, they’ll stick with your kids for years to come.
If you really want to make the kids part of the process, you could let them pick a charity to help. If you give them a commission for doing jobs around the house, or if they’re older and have a part-time job, they can start saving a percentage to donate. Another idea might be giving away old toys. Take some time to gather up all the toys they don’t play with and don’t want anymore. Search the closet together, and choose things to take to Goodwill or another charitable organization.
Remember, you’re the adult. That means it’s your job to set an example and create teachable moments. So, this year, give your kids nice gifts within your budget. But take time to create situations that allow them to participate in wonderful giving experiences, as well — because giving truly is better than receiving.
Merry Christmas, Maryn. — Dave